Fifth Sunday Ordinary Time 2012 Mass and Reflections

The Mass Readings for today are here.

Various reflections and commentaries on the readings are here  at the Centre for Liturgy at St Louis University

The First Reading Job 7:1-4, 6-7

Image from here

Job spoke, saying:

Is not man's life on earth a drudgery?

Are not his days those of hirelings?

He is a slave who longs for the shade,
a hireling who waits for his wages.

So I have been assigned months of misery,
and troubled nights have been allotted to me.

If in bed I say, "When shall I arise?"
then the night drags on;

I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle;
they come to an end without hope.

Remember that my life is like the wind;
I shall not see happiness again.


The first reading is a pretty doleful description of how we can feel when we are depleted and worn out from the endless repeated cycle of work and stress. 

The feeling of being unwanted, unlistened to, disregarded, unappreciated and taken for granted; when the real needs of a person are not being met over a protracted period the emptiness inside aches and hurts. 
There is no gratitude here : life is a drudge and it's all a waste of time. 

Image from here

" Wouldn't It Be Nice" : Nick Kershaw's great song is perhaps a modern day version of Job's lament...I have put two versions of this song : the first one is a more recent raw version....

The second is Nik Kershaw as he sang it in the 80's at the Live Aid Concert _ how time goes so quickly... the video is a bit ropy but the sound quality is fine.

Sometimes in such a negative place  all we need is a touch , a physical warmth and a hug but it's often in such times that we don't ask that of others. We may expect others to notice and they don't. 

But also true in this first reading is that sometimes the person who needs a hug pushes others away : their neediness and anger is projected outwards and is so off putting to others that they are wary of stepping nearer for fear of being rebuffed. 

In extreme ways this can eventually lead to a person closing a part of  themselves completely off. They function in the outside world while their inner life is completely at variance with what everyone else can visibly see.Their isolation increases and so too their inability to be touched.

Lay Your Hands : Thompson Twins

Fr. Ron Rolheiser's moving reflection here on the first reading is titled 

"Too - Bruised to be Touched - One of the Causes of Suicide," where he quotes from the poet, Hafiz, who wrote this poem nearly 700 years ago entitled, "We Should Talk About This Problem."

In it, God addresses a wounded soul:

There is a beautiful creature
living in a hole you have dug ...
and I often sing, but still, my dear,
you do not come out.
I have fallen in love with someone
who hides inside of you.
Fr. Rolheiser says "That's God's feeling, and perhaps ours too, when someone is in a suicidal depression."

So it is with a sense of relief we read Psalm 147 with the refrain Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.

Deutsch: Heilung der Schwiegermutter des Simon...
Image via Wikipedia
So to the Gospel, where the power of Jesus as a healer is laid wide open once again as Simon's mother -in - law is cured of a fever. 

Perhaps the fever is real or it can be seen as metaphor for that "burning up inside feeling" when our real needs are not being met. Maybe the parable even deliberately uses the mother in-law for a purpose because the stereotypical mother- in -law is often the bait for cliched jokes. 


Maybe there is a lesson that all of us can take away : that the outer person we see is not the inner person. Maybe the gospel links to the first reading in the sense that Simon's mother-in-law had that feeling of being taken for granted: her own self worth and realisation of the assumptions other people made of her, were based solely on her persona, not her true spirit and inner soul. Maybe she was aching just to be taken and held.. 

Of course Jesus recognised that head on,  met her, touched her and lifted her up and once she knew she was "known" she was able to carry on doing what she always did best but now she was re-invigorated : she could now take up her previous task to serve others with a renewed sense of who it was all for. In other words she had been "taken out of herself " and those "put upon feelings " had been erased.

The phrase "they immediately told Him about her" stays with me too. What did they tell him exactly ?? That she had a fever and had been out of sorts ?? 


Jesus, the supreme diagnostic healer cut right through the symptoms to the cause .

 I'll be There by The Four Tops : One of my favourites !! What a great song...

Maybe when we pray for others we know, who we can't cure ourselves,  we can do just that - tell Jesus what we can only outwardly see is wrong, but pray that He can root out the other reasons we may not know about,  so that He can reach down into the heart of  that person's inner sickness, pain, isolation and alienation and lift them up...


Another reflection here , another perspective

"In today’s Marcan Gospel, we’ll meet Peter’s mother-in-law, who was sick with a fever. Her glass probably seemed half-empty because sickness was traditionally associated with sin. At the very least, her illness rendered her unclean and unable to participate with her family, friends and neighbors in public events. 

But the difference between Job and Peter’s mother-in-law was that she had people who cared enough about her to get her the help she needed. They told Jesus about her. Job, on the other hand, had “friends” who exacerbated his situation by trying to find someone to blame for his troubles.
With these readings, we are invited to consider our own response to the inherent difficulties of life and to examine how we help others cope with their struggles. Are we pessimists with a complaint for every evil in the world, or are we what William J. Bausch has called “hope-givers”? 

By way of illustration, Bausch relates a story told to him by an acquaintance: You can read the rest of the story here.


Tucked in at the tale end of today's Gospel is evidence of Jesus’ commitment to contemplation, and the discernment which came to Him from such times.

Always, the centrality of prayer and deep times alone with God are key moments in His life and ministry. 

After a day of intense activity working miracles of healing, Jesus was in need of solitude with God.

Sometimes Jesus would walk by the sea shores or Galilee or find a mountain where he would be empowered to fulfil what He had to do.

God loves his creation !

If Jesus could not imagine living His life apart from prayer, then neither must I.

I rob myself of more than I can ever know when I short-change myself of deep times alone with God. 

My life is superficial if I just act on my own decisions and then somehow hope that God will bless my effort.


Spending time in prayer allowed Jesus to always focus on the source for His ministry - God. 

Gospel Mark 1: 29-39

On leaving the synagogue

Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.

Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.

They immediately told him about her.

He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.

Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.

The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.

Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.”

So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.

Nice reflection here on the gospel entitled "His Touch."

Extract below....

"The love of God begins with the Life-Giving Touch. In the book of Genesis 2: 7, “the LORD God formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life. And the man became a living person.” 

To “form” is to touch with your hands. To mould. To design. This creation story sounds as much like an embrace as it does a history. God resting His hands on a man, giving him life.

This is not to diminish the Message of Christ, what would most often be called “The Gospel”. It is rather to redirect our attention to the catalyst for redemption, grace, the salvation of the human race. 

The touch. Too few have been embraced. Not too many have had a comforting hand on their shoulder. 

There are many who wish someone would hold their hand.
Starving for a regenerative, healing touch. This is what Jesus did best.
The more we touch and the less we talk, perhaps we’ll realize we are all able to heal."

 Reach Out and Touch : The Diva Diana Ross performing at the Tsunami Benefit, broadcast from NBC Universal Studios in Los Angeles on Saturday 15th January 2005.

The healing power of touch has been a resonant idea in the human mind into the annals of recorded history. Often aligned quite closely with spiritual or religious beliefs, the ability of certain privileged persons in the community to heal through bodily contact or close proximity is repeated in culture after culture.

Faith healing in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, te-ate in ancient Japan, pranic healing in India, shamanistic rituals in tribal societies across the globe, the royal touch in medieval Europe; all hold as their central belief the tenet that mere physical contact between two human beings can effectively cure disease, heal wounds, and remove infirmities.

The Grasp Of Your Hand

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but
for the heart to conquer it.

Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved,
but hope for the patience to win my freedom.

Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling
Your mercy in my success alone;

but let me find
the grasp of Your hand in my failure.

from the book, The Heart of God, Tagore

                                         The Hymn Lay Your Hands by Carey Landry

Lay Your hands gently upon us.

Let their touch render Your peace.

Let them bring Your forgiveness and healing.

Lay Your hands, gently lay Your hands.

You were sent to free the broken hearted.

You were sent to give sight to the blind:

You desire to heal all our illnesses. Lay Your hands gently, lay Your hands.

Lord, we come to You through one another.

Lord, we come to You in our need.

Lord, we come to You seeking wholeness.

Lay Your hands gently, lay Your hands.

This is my prayer this week : the words from Sebastian temple's Offertory Hymn.

Take my hands and make them as your own, and use them for your kingdom here on earth.
Consecrate them to your care, anoint them for your service where you
may need your gospel to be sown.

Take my hands, take my hands, O Lord.
Take my hands, they speak now for my heart, and by their actions they
will show their love.

Guard them on their daily course, be their strength and guiding force
to ever serve the Trinity above.

Take my hands, take my hands, O Lord.
Take my hands, I give them to you, Lord. Prepare them for the
service of your name.

Open them to human need and by their love they'll sow your seed so all
may know the love and hope you gave.

Take my hands, take my hands, O Lord.
This reflection here

"It is, alas, a fever that afflicts more than just Peter’s mother-in-law; it afflicts us all. This understanding of the reference to fever helps frame Jesus’ reaction to the affliction in Luke’s account. Jesus rebukes the fever, as does Paul in his own way. 

It is, one might say, precisely this fever that Christ came to cure, and to do so, not by cooling its fervor, but by rescuing it from the human soap opera and redirecting toward the God in whose image we are made, whose living Icon Jesus is. 

If the Pauline reference to the flesh and the Lucan reference to fever are allowed to converge, what we have is a picture of the human condition in which jealousy and rivalry are much more than merely two of the countless sins to which we are all prone. Rather in a sense they epitomize our situation. 

René Girard’s analysis of the problems associated with what he calls “mimetic desire” explore the fever from which we humans suffer in a particularly compelling way. 

Christ rebukes the fever by becoming the object of our mimetic desire, replacing the model-rival which St. Paul has found so destructively at work in the Corinthian community. 

There is deeper meaning as well in the way Peter's mother-in-law responded once the fever has left her: she rose and began to serve. There is here a hint of the Resurrection and Pentecost. 

This is simply what happens when we are cured of the fever of life; we arise from the preoccupations of the melodrama and begin to serve. Everyone freed from the fever is, by that fact, assigned a mission."

All of this comes together in the famous prayer that John Henry Newman prayed:

May the Lord support us all the day long,
Till the shades lengthen and the evening comes

and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over,

and our work is done.

Then in his mercy may he give us
a safe lodging

and a holy rest,
and peace at last.

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